If you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else in Anderson, South Carolina, the law gives you the right to be made “whole” again. The expense of getting there, can be charged to the person who caused the injury. Seems fair in theory. However, determining why you are entitled to compensation, the amount of compensation allowed, and how to get what you deserve, is not always easy to understand. A professional personal injury attorney will help guide you in the right direction.
Whether you slipped on a wet floor that was not clearly marked during your shopping trip, someone broadsides you by running a red light, a neighbor’s dog came onto your property to bite you, or you suffered from a doctor’s medical mistake, if there is negligence, you should contact an attorney. The cost of any of these situations can be overwhelming, and a personal injury attorney will work to get you what you deserve.
That is why laws in South Carolina are in place to help victims with the cost of getting well again, as well as damages referred to as punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded in cases where the negligence is reckless, willfull or wonton such as drunk driving, racing, and texting . This type of damage is also referred to as non-economic damages, where it’s not a matter of specific money that has been lost, but rather to punish the individual for their willful, wanton, and reckless action. It is also thought that it could deter them, or others, from such negligent acts in the future.
- Pain and Suffering – This is perhaps the most common term that people hear when first learning about personal injury lawsuits. A plaintiff, the victim filing the lawsuit, may suffer significant pain stemming from someone else’s negligence. While it might be difficult to put a dollar amount on that suffering, juries tend to be sympathetic at the thought of someone suffering at the hands of someone else. Insurance companies know this, and often try to settle before the case going to the jury.
- Emotional Distress – Even though this might fall under pain and suffering, this is meant to compensate a victim for any psychological distress stemming from an injury. An example would be if the impact of the negligence results in the victim developing anxiety, extreme fear, or even substantial loss of sleep. Due to this being very difficult to prove, it might require medical treatment to show proof.
- Loss of Enjoyment – This is to compensate someone who can no longer enjoy certain areas of their life that they once did, prior to the incident. An example would be if the plaintiff can no longer enjoy a sport or hobby they used to enjoy.
The above examples are what is considered punitive or non-economic damages. However, there are also economic or compensatory damages to consider, such as the following:
- Medical Expenses – A plaintiff in a personal injury case will often have medical expenses as a result of the defendant’s negligence, which can be exorbitant and put a person or family into a financial crisis. When awarding a plaintiff an amount for this, it is thought to be enough to cover all cost that they have accrued. Any known future medical expenses should also be considered, especially if the plaintiff is disabled permanently and needing lifetime care. .
- Lost Wages – If the injured party misses work, they can recoup that loss through court. This can also reach into the future, just as the medical expenses, if they are unable to work again.
- Loss of Consortium – If a plain Plaintiff’s marriage has been altered as a result of the injury, they may also attach loss of consortium damages to the lawsuit. Financial awards for this will go to the spouse who has lost a loved one’s support and company due to negligence.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses – At times the injured party is deceased, and the family then files a “wrongful death” lawsuit on their loved one’s behalf. If so, funeral and burial expenses are often awarded along with many other elements of their loss
The above examples are much easier to put a specific dollar amount on, which makes it easier to win awards in court. These are not often capped. However, South Carolina does place caps on certain damages, such as punitive or non-economic.
Capped Damages in Anderson, South Carolina
Most states have placed “caps” on damages for a personal injury lawsuit. What this means is that the amount of money to be awarded has limits. This is especially true for punitive damages. The reason for this is to stop excessively high awards from preventing businesses from operating. This is not just for those who have been negligent, but also for those that are simply needing liability insurance to operate. If there weren’t any caps, the rates for this insurance would be so high that many businesses might not be able to afford it.
Not all states have implemented caps, but many have, including South Carolina. The state of South Carolina has placed caps on punitive and non-economic damages. For example:
- Medical Malpractice Lawsuits – Medical malpractice can involve non-economic damages. In South Carolina those are capped out at $350,000 per one defendant, and $1.05 million per case, even if there are multiple defendants named in the case.
- Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are capped out at $500,000, or 3 times the amount of any compensatory damages that have been awarded, whichever is more, with the exception of certain circumstances.
There’s always room for exceptions for these caps, but the caps will apply in most personal injury cases in South Carolina. One exception to the caps would be if the case involved grave bodily harm or death, the cap could be increased or eradicated completely. A professional South Carolina personal injury attorney from Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A., in Anderson, South Carolina, will guide you in the right direction and let you know which damages or caps could and will come into play for your individual case.